Get to know an author: Jennifer Harlow

Over the years, authors grow as artists and as professionals. This week, Jennifer Harlow, author of cross-genre steampunk, mystery and horror, describes her journey.

Why did you decide to write a book? 

I’ve always been a storyteller in some fashion. I used to fake sick all the time to stay home and make up stories with my Barbies. When I got too old for that I had to put pen to paper, first writing terrible novellas then only slightly better screenplays. One day I just thought, “Huh, I want to write a book.” I was nineteen. It took a year and a half. I just never stopped. It took almost fifteen years to get Beautiful Maids All in a Row published, but I had others published in the interim.  

Did you send book to agents or go indie? 

My first book, Mind Over Monsters, was published in 2011. I’d been trying to get an agent for almost five years. When I did, it took a year and a half to sell the book. Back in the olden days there wasn’t an option to go indie. In 2010 when I signed the contract, it was barely a thing. I’ve since published indie but do like being more of a hybrid. It really does depend on the book.  

What would you do differently if you were to write your first book now? 

I would have gone over the grammar. Really, it was that bad. But beyond that, nothing. I wrote the book I set out to and think it was pretty good. 

How has your writing and books changed since then? 

My grammar has gotten way better. It was atrocious back in the beginning. My agent almost didn’t take me on, thinking I was too much work. I also used to have to write in the descriptions in the second draft. Dialogue has always been easy, but I didn’t have the patience really for descriptions. I figured the formula out after a few books, like what senses need to be addressed, so it just comes naturally now. 

Tell us about your work in progress 

I got the rights back to six of my books, so I’ve been working on republishing them while editing something I wrote years ago. But with working full-time, it is slow going. Thankfully my agent is a saint. 

How has the pandemic affected your writing? 

I got laid off right at the beginning, but then had to find a job. My parents moved in with me, then I found a job, so I only got to write a novella in that time.  

I used to write at libraries but had to stop that. I really miss going to the library to write. It’s not the same as doing it at home. 

What do you like about other authors’ books?  

No offense to those who do like them, but I just cannot read straight romance novels or formulaic anything, really in any genre. Once again, this is just me. I am a fighter, not a lover. I detest perfect characters with fake flaws (being clumsy isn’t a flaw or character trait.) I like books that try new things, or blend genres. Make a character mostly unlikeable but slowly redeem them. It’s always interesting to see different authors’ takes on the same idea. I like to be challenged or learn new things.  

Do you have any advice for new or aspiring authors? 

If you enjoy writing your book, then write it. Even if it doesn’t ever get published, you wrote a book and had a blast doing it. That’s a win. A lot of becoming a bestseller is just a crap shoot. Like winning the lottery. If you do publish it and a handful of people like it, that’s a win, too. Just don’t let your ego or fear of failure stop you from doing something, anything, that brings you joy. 

Thank you, Jennifer! 

Jennifer Harlow 

spent her restless childhood fighting with her three brothers and scaring the heck out of herself with horror movies and books.

She grew up to earn a degree at the University of Virginia, which she put to use as a radio DJ, crisis hotline volunteer, bookseller, lab assistant, wedding coordinator, graphic designer, and government investigator.

Currently she calls Atlanta home, but that restless itch is ever present. In her free time, she continues to scare the beejepers out of herself watching scary movies and opening her credit card bills. She is the author over twelve books, an Independent Publisher’s Award, and was interviewed on NPR.

For the soundtrack to her books and other goodies visit her at

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